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International Museum Day: Spotlighting Innovative Museum Programs

By: Sarah Doar
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Museums have always served as a hub of cultural exchange and enrichment. However, today’s museums are serving wider audiences than ever before. With the need to respond to the steep decline in attendance – dropping by 75% and 72% respectively in North America and Europe alone – museums are getting more creative. To reach and engage more audiences, museums are launching interactive online lectures and events, 360° virtual tours and much more.

Today, May 18th marks International Museum Day, which is typically celebrated by 37,000 museums in about 158 countries and regions. Automatic Sync Technologies (AST) is honoring this day by recognizing the amazing strides leaders at museums are taking to create more engaging experiences to reach greater international audiences.

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Plus, many are prioritizing inclusivity. As museums aim to create more engaging experiences, they are finding ways to make new and established experiences more equitable so that all audiences – internationals, individuals with disabilities and so many others can partake. Whether in-person or online, remarkable achievements are being made to champion accessibility so that all visitors may benefit from everything museums have to offer.

Highlighting museums that are expanding their reach internationally

To counteract the recent decline in attendance, museums are now expanding their offerings to include virtual programming and exhibits. Here are some of the most intriguing online experiences that museums have made available while keeping accessibility in mind:

    • Experiencing the power of art from anywhere: The Louvre Abu Dhabi created the online program Mindful Art Moments as a way of using art appreciation to restore and improve mental health and wellness. Mindful Art Moments are short videos that use grounding exercises to allow the viewer to relax, gently observe and reflect on an artwork from their collection. Created as a response to the pandemic, the series is viewable from anywhere in the world as a way for anyone to appreciate art on their own time.
    • Launching vlogs: The Whitney Museum of American Art features a series of art vlogs (or video blogs) that are centered around notable American artists and their work. What makes this unique is that the vlogs are hosted by American Sign Language interpreters who narrate the videos using sign language, accompanied by both captions and transcripts. Foreign language subtitles are also provided so that international visitors may also have access to videos in the series. These videos are available on the museum website as well as on YouTube and are stand out examples of how museums are expanding their international reach while keeping accessibility for individuals with disabilities top of mind.
    • Offering on-demand courses: The Museum of Modern Art in NYC is now offering free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on Coursera. Participants hear directly from artists and designers, look closely at works in MoMA’s collection and exhibitions, and join a global community of learners. With courses in photography, modern art and ideas and fashion as design, MoMa is engaging people around the world in cultural learning opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been accessible to as large an audience if the courses had been conducted in person. They are also going the extra mile to proactively make these experiences accessible to individuals with disabilities so that all can participate. Anyone – from those who are Deaf or hard of hearing to those who are watching while commuting or in non-native languages – are offered the option to watch with captions or subtitles, which are powered by AST. 
      • Embedding accessibility into exhibits as an aesthetic component:  The National Museum of Qatar in Doha displays contemporary oral histories through videos. In all of the exhibits, the informants speak in their own languages, either English or Arabic. Rather than adding standard captioning to check the accessibility box in a one-size-fits-all approach, the captions, both in Arabic and English, were integrated visually and incorporated as a true part of the film and imagery. 

Celebrating museums who embrace accessibility and inclusivity

ian-dooley-ZLBzMGle-nE-unsplash (1)In honor of International Museum Day, we are proud to spotlight museums’ who are expanding their reach through accessible programming in an effort to promote education and cultural enrichment to a global audience.

Individuals with disabilities, as well as international visitors alike are all benefiting from more engaging and accessible museum experiences. By more museums launching online experiences, they allow visitors who wouldn’t have otherwise had opportunities to visit to participate and enjoy events and exhibitions.

Working with a partner who can help you to make your in-person and virtual experiences more engaging and accessible can make a huge difference. Contact AST to learn more about how we can help to provide you with accessibility solutions like live captioning for events, audio description of your videos and translation of your content. By improving accessibility in museums we can provide programming and lifelong learning opportunities for all and contribute to a more informed, equitable society.